Stanley Cup Final breakdown: Canucks vs. Bruins
On the ice, these teams are in position to hoist the coveted silver chalice because of two telltale traits: they have depth and they can play the game in the open ice as well as in the trenches. Both the Canucks and the Bruins have the size to grind in the offensive zone and to defend down low in front of the net. Both have speed, which allows for quick counterattacks off turnovers in the neutral zone. As a result, the 5-on-5 hockey should be exhilaratingly hard fought. The Bruins' special teams have struggled this spring, so the longer the action remains at full and even strength, the better their chance of success.
This series will feature Bruins' captain Zdeno Chara looking to shut down Canucks' captain Henrik Sedin. Chara took care of Vincent Lecavalier in the Eastern Conference Finals while Sedin struggled against the defensive might of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference semis. In fact, linemates Henrik, twin brother Daniel and Alex Burrows were so offensively impotent that the Preds moved their stalwart defensive duo to mark Ryan Kesler and his line. It will be intriguing to see if the Sedins and Burrows can produce versus Chara. If not, can Kesler carry the offensive load as he did in round two?
Another focal point will be the goaltenders. Roberto Luongo is playing at a supremely confident and consistent level right now. The past two rounds have seen him at his very best. Meanwhile, the Bruins' Tim Thomas alternated between beatable and brilliant against Tampa Bay in the ECF. His Game 7 composure against the Bolts will be the level he'll need to replicate throughout the Cup final series. Both netminders are Vezina Trophy finalists sporting almost identical postseason numbers, yet they come at this chance for a title from different perspectives: Thomas as the late-blooming overachiever taking on Luongo, the long-standing Next One viewed by some as overrated -- despite his gaudy career numbers and Team Canada accomplishments.